Thursday, May 07, 2009


The following was found while digging through some of Bob Church's belongings. It is a short writing Bob did on a napkin while at a restaurant during one of his travels at least 10 years ago (possibly while staying at a hotel in St. Joe). Louise Church would like to share it with you all here. And no, this isn't Bob haunting you all through his blog so don't rush to the phone to call your local paranormal society headquarters :)

Politicians in this world
Are really uptight

They get us in wars
They get us in fights
They say it's the economy
That brings it about

But then there are us
Who have found out

Don't get me wrong
I'm not afraid to fight
But in my own mind
I know it's not right
It's really strange
The position we'll be in

Because after the dead is counted
Neither will win
The dead will be dead
The lame will be lame
But the politician
Will still be the same

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

To All My Wonderful Readers

The time has come for me to call it a day.  I am now pretty much bed bound and have lost my capabilities of getting online.  My soon to be son-in-law Dave the Genius is typing this for me.

I want all of you to know what a great ride it's been.  Without the support and ongoing of input from all of you it would have been an exercise in frustration.  Here's wishing you and your families all the good things in life.  God bless you all.


Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Last Rose of Autumn

Last rose of autumn,
Poised, self-assured, demanding my attention;
October’s glisten bolsters you,
Readies you for what must come.

Final crimson-tipped cream, satiny-smooth,
Regal semi-gloss realization of all we hold dear,
Standing tall where once, in earlier times,
Your sisters begged for fleeting glance or passing touch.

Scant blend of pastel, subtle-rounded glory passing once
Before our doubting eyes; forcing us to behold—one last time
Daring us to futilely search for peers of beauty.

Darker edges frame you— I’m complete with or without you,
Mocking me... why didn’t I notice you sooner?
You’ll leave me or I’ll leave you, sure as snow will cover us.

Daring me to pick your bloom, forcing me to settle
For one last breath of scented glory,
One last look at ruby-glittered perfection,
A final feathery-soft touch before you go.

I’ll not touch you now, nor impudently sully your grace,
No hand but mine has come so close, no eye yet witnessed—
So forever shall you persevere in my heart,
Unblemished, unstained, complete.

Bob Church © 10/4/03

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Shim Shimminy, Shim Shimminy, Shim, Shim Sheree...

My answer to Jo's Wordcatalyst challenge:

The hailstones leaped from the pavement, like maggots when you fry them in hot grease. The storm currently ravaging the exterior of The Oyster House promised to be pretty much like quite a number of other storms we’d had this fall, except for the fact that the precipitation, although being a shade of white that approximated snow, was actually quite a bit harder and more apt to raise a welt if it hit you on the head, which it shouldn’t if you’re smart enough to come inside. Most Boighers knew of the savagery Pittsburgh weather is capable of, so as I waited for something to happen, I put my feet up on the seat on the other side of the table and set my mind free like one of those flowers, the Wandering Jew. The irony didn’t escape me either, me being a catholic and all. I stared at the red brick wall that lined the entire back of the restaurant, the one the color of a brick-red Crayola crayon.

She walked into my ‘office’ like a centipede with ninety-eight missing legs, and caught my eye quicker than one of those pointy hook latches that used to dangle from screen doors and would fly up whenever you banged the door open again.

Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two opposite sides gently compressed by a Thigh Master, and her eyes were limpid pools, only they had forgotten to put in any of that chemical pH-adjuster. I knew she was trouble. When she looked back at me, my thoughts tumbled in my head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free. I struggled to keep my composure, but I knew it was no use. I was about to fall for her like a mob informant falls into the Monongahela River, except that, hopefully, I wouldn’t splash when my blanket-wrapped cadaver hit the water. ”Can I help you?” I asked. I know… it was inane. Whenever I’m tense, I mutter the first thing that comes to mind. Thankfully, it was after lunch, so I wasn’t subconsciously led to ‘Would you like that super-sized?

”Maybe…” She spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it. Her raven hair glistened like nose hair after a sneeze. “Are you Shim Shimmick?”

After she spoke, a thunderclap broke the silence; an ominous sound, much like that of a thin sheet of metal being shaken backstage during the storm scene in an off-Broadway play that can’t afford a special-effects machine. The whole room had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you're on vacation in another city and Jeopardy comes on at 5:00 p.m. instead of 5:30, and our conversation seemed forced as the dialogue during the interview portion. Is that Alex Trebek a weenie, or what?

“Look, sister, I’m a busy guy…” I tried to sell her cool… with all the effectiveness of a little boat gently drifting across a pond in the exact same way a bowling ball wouldn't.

“Oh?” Her eyes were like two brown circles with big black dots in the center. She leaned against the desk, scooting her butt onto one corner as she crossed her legs, forcing my eyes to the pink flesh the same way a rancher forces a calf into a chute before he pokes it with a Hot-Shot. “I have a message for you. Remember your buddy, Hackstraw?”

I wasn’t about to fall for this old ruse… “I have lots of buddies,” I scoffed. “And don’t call me Hackstraw! But, to answer your question, I’m Shimmick, what of it? I know a guy named Hackstraw, though.” That ought to let her know she’s not dealing with a pinhead. I have a mind like a steel trap, and not one that has been left out in the weather so long it’s rusted shut, either.

Now, she looked as perplexed as a hacker who means to access P:thur.quim102.comaaa/ch@ung but gets P:thur.quimaaa/ch@ung bymistake. . In her long fingers, she held a tapered white cylinder that looked as long as one of those cigarettes you might see Bette Davis or Joan Crawford smoking, only without the holder. Her artistic sense was obviously exquisitely refined, like someone who can tell butter from I Can't Believe It's Not Butter.

Her voice was so husky it could have pulled a dogsled, and she possessed a deep, throaty, genuine laugh-- like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up. She reached into her bag and pulled out a dagger, holding it up in front of her. A blind man could see it was as sharp as the tone used by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee(D-TX) in her first several points of parliamentary procedure made to Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.) in the House Judiciary Committee hearings on the impeachment of President William Jefferson Clinton.

“I pulled this out of him when I found him laying behind my building. Hackstraw fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a Hefty bag filled with alphabet soup.“ Her vocabulary was as bad as, like… well, like whatever, know what I mean?

She stood up and walked closer to me, looking very much like someone I had never seen before. I hadn’t noticed her height, but she was as tall as a five-foot-ten-inch tree. This woman was some package, all right… one of those that UPS leaves at your door that you don’t have to sign for.

Even then, I knew we were destined to be one; long separated by cruel fate, I envisioned us as star-crossed lovers racing across a grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Youngstown at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from South Bend at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.

In my muddled state, the pistol she now brandished had gone unnoticed, like the period after the Dr. on a Dr Pepper can, but it was big enough to give me a bad case of barrel envy. She had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while. Was that lust in her eyes or was she simply crazy as the wacko who gets locked up for killing a whole bunch of people? Her grin took on the dimensions of Tanya Harding watching re-runs of Jeff Gillooly crushing Nancy Kerrigan’s knee.

We’d never met, but there we were… just like two hummingbirds who had also never met. Now, I was lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, mind you, but a real duck that was actually lame… maybe from accidentally stepping on an extremely sharp pebble or a land mine or something.

Shots rang out, as shots are wont to do. "Oh, Jason, take me!" she panted, her breasts heaving like a college freshman on Dollar-A-Beer Night. At that moment, I almost wished my name was Jason. Dropping the pistol, she wrapped her arms around me, a ballerina gracefully standing en pointe and extending one slender leg behind her like a dog at a fire hydrant.

Silently, for a moment we swayed like an oscillating electric fan set on medium. She was growing on me like E. coli on room-temperature ground round. It was becoming more and more apparent that she was as easy as a TV Guide crossword. When she sat down on my lap, I thought I heard bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up.

Sweet nothings wafted into my willing ears. Her voice had that tense, grating quality, like a first-generation thermal paper fax machine that needed a band adjusted.

But, she wouldn’t make a sucker out of me. She was just a little too slick, a little too accomplished. For her, this was as much a tradition as a father chasing his kids around the back yard with a chainsaw… No, no! I wouldn’t be her patsy!

Suddenly, I was filled with revulsion as I looked at her and saw my ex-wife’s face. The revelation that our marriage of twenty years had disintegrated because of her infidelity came as a rude shock, like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge-free ATM. It hurt the way your tongue hurts after you accidentally staple it to the wall… I hate it when that happens. But, it was still night-time and this was still Pittsboigh, so who knew what the future held?

What did this broad want?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

My Soiree

Top: The crooners (Harry Furness and my son, Blake) perform.
Jo, Karen and Shirley, during a quiet moment on my bridge.

The WordCatalyst Crew: Back Row from left, Harry Furness, JO Janoski, Dan Beams, Karen Heywood and Nan Jacobs. Front row, Shirley Allard, myself and Mrs. Bubba, the lovely and talented Weezie

Well, it's time I took my thumb out of my butt and put something up. It's been another week or so and I promised you pic's of my big soiree, so I guess it's put-up-or-shut-up time.

The occasion was the 61st anniversary of my birth and my desire to try to get together with some of those who make my life complete. I had no idea how complete my life is. I invited practically everyone I knew, not once thinking that folks might be inclined to actually accept (such has been my experience on more than one occasion), and I got the shock of my life-- nearly every single person I invited showed up. Now, let me be fair when I tell you that many of the people were relatives and relatives of relatives whom I'd not yet had the pleasure of meeting, but there were also those very special few composed of some of the writers on the staff of Word Catalyst Magazine, an intrepid bunch willing to brave airports, rental cars with crazy Pennsylvania drivers intent on photographing the St. Louis Arch from every angle known to man, motel rooms, the vaguaries of cuisine known only as 'down-home cooking', as well as countless other indignities heaped upon the traveling public in 21st Century America, for the pleasure of what exactly?

I can only imagine the look Shirley Allard got from her hubby when she said, "Jim, pack a bag we're going to Missouri" followed by Big Jim's stony New England stare and decision to comply despite his opinion that his beloved may have taken leave of her senses.

Now, the decision for Harry Furness may have taken on different tones as he sat on his couch in Delaware and suddenly realizing that if he could get on an airplane and ride for a couple of hours without his legs falling off, he'd be afforded the opportunity to get down with his unholy harps to the favor of an adoring group of on-lookers, so where's the decision? He packed a bag.

Jo Janoski, Karen Heywood, Nan Jacobs and Dan Beams also made the decision to leave their homes and join us, all with varying degrees of difficulty and tribulation.

The two-day party contained practically every form debauchery that could be expected of otherwise-sensible people of a certain age (ahem!), without violating any known societally-accepted norms of behavior and with an absence of any recognized nudity.

And I saw a spirit of love take over a group of people whose numbers, at times, exceeded fifty without a single crass word. I am so blessed to know such people, and for the remainder of my days I shall keep you all in my heart. Thank you for the most wonderful occasion a person could ever hope for. Bless you all and thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A Reconsideration of Position

After much consternation and gnashing of teeth, at the request of a reader who means something to me, I’ve decided to come out of turtle mode and stick my head back out into the world for the scrutiny of all who might happen upon my little island here in cyberspace.

Frankly, I am (and have been for quite some time) battling with myself over the concept of ‘worth’ as it refers to compensation for services rendered. I guess I’ve concerned myself with the concept my entire life. I’ve always felt that if someone spends time, money or effort in the pursuit of any quest, be it entertainment, goods or whatever, they deserve at least a modicum of fulfillment for their efforts. I take that very personally, because I’ve always worked hard and know the feelings I’ve felt after being ‘ripped off’.

The same concept prevails in my writing. It is my desire that whomsoever might spend their time reading my prose come away with some sort of compensation be it in the form of a smile, a wistful look, or even a spark of disagreement lustful enough to provoke a comment.

Perhaps I’ve been selfish in this platform. Maybe I should allot a period of time each day to sit and clack about trivialities that may or may not mean much to me, but which may spark an interest on behalf of the reader.

I’ve always thought of writing as art, with the words converted to vibrant and/or subtle hues of contrast giving life to a concept, disdainful of pragmatism and free to be kaleidoscopically whirled and twirled so as to catch the light, offering fire and brilliance as they’re read.

Trust me when I tell you chemotherapy inhibits my ability to bring the fire, but I shall try to honor your requests and offer up something.

And as always, thank you for your support. You folks are way too good to me.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Last Gig at Lookout Point

Last Gig at Lookout Point

Crystal Brodnax felt her heart beat in her ears with each foot placed in front of the other, the park’s running course kicking her ass this afternoon. But, if advancing years were to be kept at bay, she must keep running—if indeed her current pace could really be construed to be ‘running’. She recalled two little boys on skateboards who had passed her with no problem whatsoever, the little bastards barely slowing down to give her a sideways glance, as though she were but another park statue without the benefit of pigeon shit or cascading fountain to establish her presence. The breeze, still too warm to reward her rapid exhalations with the prominence of vapor, nevertheless foretold the rapidly approaching autumnal season with a bite that seared her lungs a little. Soon, she would need to replace her silk warm-up jacket with more suitable woolen attire if she were to continue her early evening regimens, but with dusk fast approaching, her immediate goal included only getting back to Woodshire Boulevard without getting raped and/or murdered.

Like any large urban park in the northeast, the expanses of trees, hills and undergrowth of Lookout Point Park held ample opportunities for mayhem, should the unwary runner fail to exercise due vigilance, especially when the sun wasn’t shining brightly. Crystal’s daily ritual included the full four-mile course that required her to negotiate several laborious uphill sections of twists and turns in the path that led to the park’s namesake, Lookout Point. Fortunately, several years back an anonymous benefactor had bequeathed the funding necessary to erect emergency telephone call boxes every half mile and pave the path, thus rendering the surface smooth and nearly free of unseen bumps or holes that could turn an ankle and leave a runner at the mercy of the elements… or whatever else might lurk under the veneer of the surrounding glade. It was a nice enough place, she figured, and her safety was not in question so long as she didn’t wander off the course. Three years had come and gone since she’d first set foot on the Lookout Point Park Running Path, and Crystal Broadnax’s experiences on the course had all been positive, sore muscles notwithstanding or hours spent recuperating from the debilitating effects of coming down from the so-called ‘runner’s high’. Yes, she did feel the euphoria of endorphins cascading into her bloodstream, but like the concept of orgasms, which she’d never experienced, any pleasure derived was likely of short duration and intensity. Plus, she didn’t enjoy the sweating or the rash produced by her abundant thighs, the female equivalent of jock itch, or so she supposed.

But, run she did, if for no other reason than habit demanded it. Crystal Broadnax, full-time EMT and part-time theater arts student, displayed all the anal retentive characteristics that as an undergraduate earned her the nickname, Sphincter. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right… every time. Her reputation as a ball buster earned her a good deal of time alone, which was fine with her. Most of the men she knew were gay, married or both, and the few guys for whom she felt any attraction whatsoever were either unsophisticated, cheap-feel skirt chasers or self-indulged narcissists. It wasn’t that she didn’t like men, it was just that she had neither time nor inclination to raise any of the juveniles she’d experienced in her social life. In Crystal’s opinion, if you get close enough to any man to lead him to believe you’re willing to spend more than one night at his apartment, and he’ll have you doing his laundry before the week is out. So she ran… and she ran… and she ran some more, even if she could be timed with a sundial.

Stoner’s Ridge marked the start of the ascent up to the Point. Not so much a promontory as a line of demarcation, it served to define the beginning of a constant uphill journey, the point of no return for slackers where many stopped and turned around or simply paused to watch the sun set over the hills in the background. Tempted as she might be to stop, Crystal pressed on past her inadequacies, intent on her objective, the summit. Certainly, the area had earned its name, the glens offering easy access to teenagers hoping for enough privacy to light up a joint or cop a feel… or both. The line of trees at the juncture of the two adjoining side hills formed a notch accentuated by a rock outcropping at the bottom, an area that looked out of place with its neighbors, as though someone had merely placed the boulders there to give the runners something to distract their view from the path—and the dopers in the woods. The picnic table atop the ridge sat alone today, its gray top and benches lusterless and uninviting, the perfect place for a quick pit stop to pull her socks up and catch her breath.

A thin sliver of sun peeked over the hilltop, its refractory powers painting the sky an orangeish-purple and causing Crystal Brodnax to sit down on the bench as she reflected upon the scene with what little romance she still harbored for nature’s majesty. She would not allow herself the luxury of recognizing the romance of the colors or lamenting her perpetual single status, as hard as her subconscious might try. Ethan had used her ‘til he used her up, she figured, and no amount of sentimentality could alter her reality, so why give in to maudlin bullshit and let someone see her cry? Still, that sky was gorgeous and she felt the urge to—what the hell? At the base of the boulders in the notch of the valley, Crystal saw him.

The man’s figure rested between two large round rocks, his head and lower legs visible but torso obscured by the boulders on either side, as though he’d crawled into the crevice and couldn’t get out. The man appeared to be youngish, with a full head of brown hair, but she couldn’t see his clothing. A quick scan of the area around him gave no clues as to his situation. He wasn’t looking at her. In fact, he didn’t appear to be looking at anything in particular, if indeed his eyes were open at all. Only one thing was sure, he appeared to be in trouble, and Crystal’s inner EMT compelled her to investigate. Reaching inside her left jacket pocket, she took her whistle out and looped the cord around her neck. Then, discovering the aerosol can of pepper spray in its usual spot in the right pocket, she walked down the hill. Near the bottom, she jumped up on the rocks above the man’s head and looked down at him. Surprisingly, he didn’t move or acknowledge her presence. Truly, he was stuck there, although she couldn’t understand how he could have possibly arranged himself in that position, unless— there she stopped, noticing the blood stain on the rocks on either side. Someone had stuffed him in there, just a little more garbage to dispose of in the woods.

“Are you okay?”

The words seemed to revive him a little, and he craned his neck in his unsuccessful attempt to look up at her. Then, resuming his stare straight ahead, he muttered, “Oh, yea… what could possibly be wrong?”

His voice sounded resolute to Crystal… perky, even, as though absolutely nothing was peculiar about his dilemma. High? Demented? Crystal’s internal computer accessed memory banks of retained knowledge gained from twenty years of dealing with emergency situations in every conceivable scenario and decided to investigate further before deciding on a course of action for his rescue.

Jumping down from the rocks, she assumed a position where she could make direct eye contact with him, although the girth of the boulders prevented her from getting within three feet of his head. His arms still weren’t visible, although she could see the soles of his brown boots sticking out from between the two hunks of granite. Quickly, she tried to move the boulders, even jackknifing her body between them and trying to force them off him, all to no avail. Whoever put him here must have thought he was already dead.

“Listen, I’m going to get you out, I’m a paramedic. What’s your name?”

The question seemed to perplex him a bit. “Will my name have an effect on your efforts? Would you approach the task differently if my name were Alfonzo than you would if it were Jeremiah?”

“What?” The question made Crystal angry, although she didn’t know why. Why do I always get the drunks?

“Do you need me to repeat the question? Oh, wait… maybe English isn’t your language of choice. Sprechen sie Deutsch? Parlez vous Francais? Habla Espan—“

“You don’t need to mock me, dude. I’m just trying to help you.” Crystal snapped.

This caused the head to close its eyes and try to laugh, ending in a coughing, hacking expression of dismay. “You want to help me… how nice. Where were you when I needed help in Toledo or Scranton? Where were you when things got ugly during my second set in Springfield and the broad in the third row kept calling me a Communist? Now you want to help me? Well, there’s no helping me, lady, get used to it.” Again, a few haggard coughs escaped, causing his eyes to bulge.

“Bull!” Crystal roared at him. “I’ll call and have ten paramedics swarming this place in fifteen minutes.”

“Honey, you can get a thousand paramedics out here and a hundred doctors, too… but there ain’t a damn thing that can be done for me, except humor me for a few minutes. How about turning on your best Clara Barton charm and show me that bedside manner you folks have become so famous for. I could use a friendly audience as much as anything right now,” and his voice trailed off, as though he were finishing an insignificant thought.

“Be quiet for a second,” she cooed, all the fight gone from her voice. Reaching over the boulder, Crystal gently pressed the tips of her fingers to his neck, feeling for a carotid pulse, and was rewarded for her effort with a slow, thready beat. I need to get him flat on the ground as soon as possible. “Let’s start over, Sweetie, what would you like for me to call you?” Not waiting for his answer, she crawled down and started to examine his feet, pulling off one boot and revealing a nightmarish blood-soaked sock. Slipping it off carefully, she revealed a cold purple foot. Obviously, he had an injury to his leg that had cut off all circulation. Crystal slid her hand under the boot as far as she could, noticing that the earth gave way underneath, and the soil felt wet… he’d lost a lot of blood.

“Call me… Ishmael.” Then the man started to laugh; a natural, unforced chortle that caused his lips to quiver. His eyes opened and he looked for her. “Sorry, I couldn’t resist. I figured you’d enjoy the Melville reference. You are a woman of letters, are you not?”

Maybe if she could dig out from under his legs, she could force his release by pulling him out the bottom if his upper body wasn’t stuck. Since she couldn’t see his arms, there was no need in even trying to pull him out the top. Hurrying now, she began to scoop the dirt out from under his legs, sickened as she was by the red, sodden debris sticking to her hands.

In the waning light, a passerby might have confused her for a large dog digging for a bone as dirt flew behind her from between her legs. As her digging progressed further and further toward his butt, the dirt became firmer and harder to scoop, but the area directly under him stayed open, and she realized his upper body was lodged. Crystal reached around his leg from underneath and tried to pull down with all her might, hoping that she could feel some movement or some reaction from him. Nothing.

For the first time in her adult life, Crystal Broadnax felt totally out of control. Breathing deeply to keep panic from overtaking her, she stood up and looked at his face. Incredibly, a pale pinkness remained and his expression held no question. He seemed quite comfortable. “Who did this to you?” Crystal asked him.

Ignoring her question, he continued. “See? I told you there’s nothing you can do. If you’d listened, who knows what level of understanding we could already have reached, what plane of existence we could even now be sharing. It’s not as if we have a lot of time, you know. Would you answer a question for me?” His eyes were open again, and they implored her not to look away.

“Sure…” she allowed, “ask away.”

“Which Stooge do you think I most resemble?”

A meaningful pause ensued, then, with snot flying out her nose, Crystal gasped and put her hands over her face, laughter engulfing her. After a few seconds, she looked up and he was smiling, too. “Larry,” she offered, “definitely Larry.” Then, she turned her head away, feeling tears starting to well. He’s going to die, and I’m powerless to stop it… and he’s trying to make me feel better. I can’t let him see me cry.

With a few quick steps, Crystal scaled the boulder and placed her head close to his, staring directly into his eyes. “But, I think you’re much more handsome than Larry, and obviously better educated.”

He rolled his eyes. “Oh, sure, butter up the guy who can’t move. Roll these boulders off me and I’ll show you just how mistaken first impressions can be. When the time comes, would you please be sure to tell the coroner that I’m leaving my body to science fiction?” Both sides of his mouth moved slowly upward into a small, sickly grin.

Smiling back at him, she drew her legs up underneath her and sat Indian-style in an area where she knew he could see her. It’s my turn to talk now. “Who are you? Please tell me. If you do die here tonight, I need to be able to tell someone who you are. Don’t you want your family to know what’s become of you?”

The question seemed to confuse him momentarily. “Ah, yes… who am I… the eternal question, isn’t it? Who is any one of us, really? We come, we go, and if we’re lucky, we have a little fun in the interim. Let’s talk about you, anyone who’d bother to stop for a stranded comic enjoying his last non-paying gig has to be much more interesting, and probably funnier. Besides, I don’t have any family.”

“Okay, have it your way, but I warn you, I’m high-maintenance.” Noticing that his eyes were now only about half-open, she gently stroked his cheek with the back of her hand.
“My name is Crystal Broadnax. I’m originally from Parkersburg, West Virginia, I’m a 41-year-old paramedic and I’ve never had an orgasm.”

“Jesus, Mary and Joseph… you’re beginning to sound like every woman I’ve ever known, not that the list is lengthy. I think I liked you better when you were threatening me with paramedics. But, since you’ve taken the time and effort to stop by my clinic, I suppose you’d like to hear some psychobabble about human sexual response—but I’m required by law to warn you, any reproduction of the details, pictures and accounts of this game without the expressed written consent of the National Football League is strictly prohibited.”

Crystal grinned at him. “Is there a man on the face of the earth who doesn’t have that damned disclaimer memorized?”

“Yea, there are a few. In fact, one of them probably cuts your hair, but I doubt he’d be too interested in your little problem. Let’s press on, shall we?”

“Hey, pallie, I never said it was a problem— it was more a statement of fact. You know, a little tidbit of information about me that I thought might interest you, might make you more likely to relate to me on a closer basis.”

This caused the man to think for a few seconds before responding. “Oh, I see… you want to get close to me, I should have realized that. What lady jogger who comes across a gut-shot comic while she’s taking her afternoon run, doesn’t automatically start spilling her guts to the poor bastard? You start by telling me that you’ve never had an orgasm, then I tell you that I’d spend three weeks of non-stop foreplay with you trying to make it happen, then you tell me that you’d like to but you don’t know me that well, then I’d explain that the chemistry that we would have would just make not knowing each other all the more exciting. Then, you’d look into my eyes and say that, indeed, we could probably make all that happen… if only you knew my name, address, blood type, any chronic diseases and last, but not least, the location of my next-of-kin, then I’d tell you that my name doesn’t make the slightest bit of difference to anyone, and we’d be right back at square one staring at each other, with you still trying to find a way to make it all better.”

Now the smiles disappeared.

“Is it such a terrible thing that I’d like to help you?”

The man shook his head a little. “No, it isn’t. I’m sorry… but there’s nothing you can do, Crystal. Do you mind if I call you Crystal? You’re the last person I’ll ever talk to, and I don’t want to argue. My vision is starting to fade, but I do want to let you know that I consider you very pretty. I’d also like you to know that if I had more time, I’d make a serious run at you. Honestly, I can’t understand how any man who’s ever seen you would ever let you run by yourself.”

Overwhelmed by the honesty and nearly overcome by her own emotion, Crystal summoned all the courage she could muster. Stroking his hair, she softly cooed, “If I’d found you, I wouldn’t be running at all.”

The man tilted his head toward her, obviously enjoying her tenderness. “My name is Chuck, but you can call me…” He blinked his eyes and turned his head to the side, making eye contact with her one last time. “…Larry.”

Crystal once again checked his carotid artery for a pulse. Finding none, she jumped down from the rocks and walked up the path to find a call box. By now, darkness had overtaken the landscape and her mood. Isn’t this just my luck? Finally I find someone I think I might be compatible with and the bastard dies on me. Irony, thy name is Larry.

Suddenly feeling tired and old, Crystal Broadnax sat down on a rock to wait for the coroner; and she longed for the days when she was but a simple Sphincter, who neither knew nor cared about orgasms… or sad, dying comics. Then, she wept.